San Francisco's Anti-Displacement Movement: Progressives Against Progress?
The flood of tech companies and their employees--at the end of 2013, San Francisco had 53,000 tech jobs, over triple the number in 2004--has spiked property values and rents: these days, San Francisco's housing is the costliest in the U.S.
That mounting costliness has occasioned massive displacements and lively protests.
The blockades of the "Google" buses have garnered worldwide attention, but it's the less showy city's tenants movement that has become a major force in San Francisco politics.
At the same time, the anti-displacement movement is unsettling assumptions about left and right.
The opponents of displacement, arguing from the left, which customarily identifies itself as the party of progress, are denounced as reactionary and insular--and not just by apologists for big business.
Meanwhile, the tech industry is hailed as the truly progressive force in town.
"This ideological churn," writes Zelda Bronstein, "embodies profound yet elusive shifts in historical consciousness" that are thrown "into high relief" by "the discord roiling San Francisco."
Examining arguments from both sides, Bronstein suggests that we need to rethink the relationship between technological change and democracy--and the meaning of progress.